Hormonal Weight Gain: What Causes It and 10 Ways To Avoid It

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Written by: Erin Coleman,

B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

hormonal weight gain

Hormone imbalance is common among women, especially those over 40, but you don't have to live with hormonal weight gain.

This type of weight gain can result due to fluctuations in estrogen, thyroid hormone, or multiple hormones.

Making a few simple lifestyle adjustments can help you achieve or maintain a desirable weight, feel better, look younger, become happier, and have the best quality of life possible!

The common risk factors associated with hormonal weight gain include:

  • Being over 40
  • Fatigue
  • Slowed metabolic rate
  • Poor dietary habits
  • Too little exercise
  • Too little sleep
  • Ongoing stress
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Thyroid disorders

While common, you don't have to settle for carrying excess weight because of hormonal weight gain.

A healthy body weight is within reach, regardless of your age and risk factors!

The bottom line is you don't have to settle for gaining weight over 40, despite hormone fluctuations.

Make simple changes to your routine, see a doctor regularly, and use hormone therapy if needed to optimize your physical health, mental health, and overall well-being.

Keep reading for everything you need to know about hormonal weight gain!

Learn how you can start increasing your metabolism after 40!

Best Ways to Avoid Hormonal Weight Gain

Ways to reduce hormonal weight gain, or avoid it entirely, include:

Have Your Hormones Checked

If you suspect a hormone imbalance prevents you from reaching or maintaining an ideal weight, check in with your doctor.

They can use a blood test to evaluate your current hormone levels and determine if they are within a healthy range.

Signs of imbalanced hormones include fatigue, hot flashes, weight gain, reduced muscle mass, decreased bone density, vaginal dryness, depression, mood swings, sleeping problems, and low libido.

Undergo Treatment When Needed

If you have a thyroid disorder, low estrogen, or other hormone imbalances, your doctor may suggest you take synthetic thyroid hormone or try hormone replacement therapy to enhance your metabolism and make weight loss easier.

You might take a pill, receive a pellet placed beneath your skin, apply a cream or gel to your skin, or wear a skin patch to increase hormones in your body for better balance.

If you have diabetes, your provider might recommend you take supplemental insulin, a hormone that helps manage high blood sugar levels.

Keep Your Body Moving

Sitting down too often throughout the day is a risk factor for hormonal weight gain, as it can reduce your body's metabolic rate.

Even if you're not exercising, there are things you can do much of the day to stay active and burn extra calories.

Take frequent breaks from sitting at a desk or looking at a computer screen to climb stairs, go for a short walk, or do house chores or yard work.

Consider getting a sit/stand desk to reduce time spent being sedentary and do fun (active) hobbies with your family.

Go for bike rides, try rollerblading, go swimming, or consider skiing.

Nurture Your Mental Health

Depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions can affect your appetite and eating habits.

Furthermore, hormone imbalance is a risk factor for depression.

If you notice that a mental health disorder causes you to eat too many calories or skip workouts, see a mental health specialist for an evaluation.

Medications and counseling, in addition to making healthy lifestyle changes, can improve your mood, physical health, outlook on life, and overall quality of life.

Take Dietary Supplements

Hormone imbalance often causes fatigue, making it difficult to stay active enough to maintain an ideal body weight.

Ask your doctor which dietary supplements are best for your personalized needs.

Taking a multivitamin designed to meet the micronutrient requirements of women helps reduce deficiencies, boost energy, and lessen your risk of hormonal weight gain.

Your provider may also suggest taking hormone balance supplements for women, probiotics, omega-3 supplements, vitamin D, calcium, fiber, or other dietary supplements to optimize energy levels and reduce your chance of health issues.

The Natural Hormone Balancer Busy Women 40+ Are Using For Improved Mood, Sleep, Skin, Stress & Easier Weight Loss

At around 40, most women's hormone levels begin a “rollercoaster' ride, which eventually culminates in menopause. You feel tired all the time. It's hard to lose weight. Your body doesn't respond to diet and exercise like it used to. But now, it doesn't have to be that way for you…

Complete Fat-Burning Workouts

While you don't have to push yourself to the max during exercise to burn fat, it's important to include fat-burning workouts in your regular routine.

Try Fit Mother Project fat-burning exercises, or consider mixing and matching the following exercise routines:

High-Intensity Interval Training

Try high-intensity interval training (HIIT) by altering high intensity with low- to moderate-intensity cardiovascular exercises for 20-30 minutes.

Long Continuous Cardio

To complete long continuous cardiovascular exercise for fat-burning, simply do at least 45-60 minutes of aerobic workouts at a moderate pace.

You might choose jogging, speed walking, using an elliptical machine, rowing, cycling, swimming, or other cardiovascular workouts.

Circuit Training

Circuit training involves cycling between various cardiovascular or strength training exercises with little to no rest periods.

For example, you might do mountain climbers for 30-6o seconds, complete 20 squat-to-press exercises, do 20 burpees, complete plank jacks for 30-60 seconds, rest, and repeat this series before moving to the next set of circuit training exercises.

Superset Strength Training

When choosing superset strength training workouts, you won't rest much between sets for maximum fat-burning.

Continuously alternate between two different sets of exercises (biceps curls with triceps extensions, squats with lunges, etc.) and try not to rest between supersets.

Alter Your Mindset

Altering your mindset is one of the best ways to maintain an ideal weight, prevent hormonal weight gain, and even lose weight.

Be mindful of which foods you choose, portion sizes, and how many minutes you stay active daily.

Drink water frequently throughout the day, minimize stress, and aim to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night.

Rather than eating as much food as you can before feeling overly full, focus on only eating when you're truly hungry, eating slowly, and stopping as soon as you begin to feel full.

Focus on the benefits of maintaining a healthy weight over the enjoyment you might have from eating certain foods.

Weigh yourself regularly and be mindful of how your clothes fit.

Calculate your body mass index (BMI) by multiplying your body weight in pounds by 703, dividing by your height in inches, and again dividing that number by your height in inches.

You can also use a BMI calculator.

A healthy BMI range is 18.5-24.9. Make it a goal to stick within this ideal weight range.

Switch from Added Sugars to Fruits

If you have a sweet tooth, a reduced-calorie way to curb it is to choose fresh fruits, frozen fruits, dried fruit, or freeze-dried fruits instead of candy bars and other sweet treats.

You might also pick applesauce without added sugar in place of traditional desserts.

It's important to choose dried or freeze-dried fruits that don't contain added sugar, though they still taste sweet because of the natural sugars present in them.

Choosing fruit instead of added sugar provides vitamins, minerals, fiber, and fewer calories to help you avoid hormonal weight gain, especially over 40.

Focus on Fiber, Protein, and Heart-Healthy Fats

To reduce your risk of hormonal weight gain, it's vital to focus on three main nutrients that boost satiety and promote fat-burning.

These nutrients include:


The human body doesn't fully digest or absorb fiber, a type of carbohydrate that aids in weight control by enhancing satiety but not significantly contributing to your calorie intake.

Examples of fiber-rich foods include vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, nuts, and seeds.

Fill half of each plate of food with high-fiber vegetables to help meet your daily fiber recommendations of at least 21-25 grams of fiber daily for women.

Add fruits or vegetables to protein shakes and nutrient-dense smoothies, or eat fresh, dried, or freeze-dried fruits between meals as a snack.

Dip fresh veggies in hummus or eat dried or roasted vegetables as a snack.

Your doctor may suggest you take a dietary fiber supplement to aid in weight control or improve disease management but check in with them to make such supplements are a fit for you.


Protein is vital to prevent hormonal weight gain for numerous reasons.

It can increase your metabolism, help you burn calories, enhance lean body mass, and boost satiety to keep you full longer.

Eat ample protein-rich foods, such as eggs, fish, seafood, chicken, turkey, or plant-based meat substitutes.

Fill one-fourth of each plate of food with high-protein options and eat protein-rich snacks throughout the day.

Additional foods rich in protein include milk, some plant milk, Greek yogurt, kefir, cheese, legumes, hummus, nuts, seeds, and nut butter.

Meet SuperFuel. The Delicious Protein Shake Packed With 40+ Energy-Boosting Vitamins & Superfoods (Designed For Busy Women)

As a busy women, it’s challenging to stay consistent with healthy eating. That’s why we created SuperFuel… the delicious “all-in-one” nutrition shake for busy women 40+ to give your body the protein + key nutrients you need for more energy, fat burning, and muscle building.

Healthy Fats

Add heart-healthy fats to complete your nutritious menus and avoid hormonal weight gain!

Healthy fats add satiety to your meal plan and keep you fuller longer.

They also reduce the risk of diseases and weight gain over 40 when used in place of saturated fats, added sugar, refined grains, and sweet treats.

Add olive oil, avocado oil, or other plant-based oils to your recipes.

Choose oil-based dressings without added sugar, avocados, nuts, seeds, and nut butter too!

Consider Meal Replacements

Using meal replacements for breakfast, lunch, or dinner can reduce your calorie intake without feeling hungry.

Such replacement also can help you steer clear of hormonal weight gain.

To make a meal replacement shake, combine protein powder with water, milk, or plant milk.

Optional add-ins include fruit, ice, nuts, seeds, nut butter, oatmeal, coffee, matcha powder, or tea.

Get creative or use these Fit Mother Project protein shake recipes!

Erin Coleman
B.S. - Nutritional Science, R.D., L.D.

Writer, The Fit Mother Project

Erin Coleman is a registered and licensed dietitian with over 15 years of freelance writing experience.

She graduated with her Bachelor of Science degree in nutritional science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and completed her dietetic internship at Viterbo University in La Crosse, Wisconsin.

Prior to beginning her career in medical content writing, Erin worked as Health Educator for the University of Wisconsin-Madison Department of Internal Medicine.

Her published work appears on hundreds of health and fitness websites, and she’s currently working on publishing her first book! Erin is a wife, and a Mom to two beautiful children.

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*Please know that weight loss results & health changes/improvements vary from individual to individual; you may not achieve similar results. Always consult with your doctor before making health decisions. This is not medical advice – simply very well-researched info on hormonal weight gain.

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